New Delhi, Aug 29: The wait will finally be over after days of ifs and buts, with Pakistan and Nepal kickstarting the proceedings in the Asia Cup 2023 in Multan on Wednesday.
The first match of the competition, which is being held, for the first time, in two different countries -- Pakistan and Sri Lanka -- because of geo-political considerations as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) refused to send its team across the border to play in Pakistan.
Thus Pakistan, with an enviable bowling lineup, will kickstart its campaign in Match No.1 of the continental event at the Multan Cricket Stadium in Pakistan on Wednesday, while India will play their matches in various venues in Sri Lanka.
Never before has the Asia Cup been co-hosted. But after the BCCI refused to send its team to Pakistan, the ACC (Asian Cricket Council), was forced to find this unique solution.
Though some of the PCB officials expressed their dissatisfaction, it was to no avail as this seemed the only way to salvage the tournament.
Now the stage is set and players are eagerly waiting to test their skills ahead of the ICC ODI World Cup scheduled later this year.
For the Asia Cup, the teams have been divided into two groups comprising three teams each, playing in a round-robin cycle, set to compete for the prized trophy.
The top two teams from each group will qualify for the Super-Four stage, followed by the topper of each group to play the final on September 15 in Colombo.
India, Nepal, and Pakistan are placed in Group A, whereas Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and Sri Lanka are in Group B.
A total of 13 games will be played throughout the tournament. The group stage matches will be played between August 30 to September 5, with three games being played in Pakistan, and the rest in Sri Lanka.
The Super-Four Stage will be played between September 6 to 15, with five being played in Sri Lanka and one game in Pakistan. The final will be hosted at R. Premdasa Stadium in Colombo on September 17.
Team Nepal will play for the first time, marking their debut in the tournament. They qualified by winning the inaugural ACC Men’s Premier Cup 2023, in which they overcame the United Arab Emirates in the final by seven wickets.
The Asia Cup was started way back in 1984 in the ODI format. However, the recent edition has been played in both ODI and T2OI formats.
India is the most-crowned team in the tournament with seven titles (6 ODI and 1 T20), Sri Lanka are second with six titles (5 ODI and 1 T20I) and Pakistan have won the title twice.
The much-anticipated match between the two arch-rival teams, Pakistan and India will be played on September 2.
The last time these two teams faced each other in this format in 2019, skipper Rohit Sharma played an exhilarating inning of 140 runs. However, rain played a key role in the game and India won it by 89 runs (DLS method).
This time around, Pakistan has a formidable side with batters like Imam-ul-Haq, Babar Azam, Mohd Rizwan and bowlers of the caliber of Shaheen Shah Afridi, Haris Rauf, Faheem Ashraf in their ranks. (IANS)